New Zealand Super Fund makes US$75m investment in high-tech glass firm

Leading investor gets ‘expansion capital’ exposure to energy efficiency

The NZ$29.6bn (€17.5bn) New Zealand Superannuation Fund has followed up its ‘expansion capital’ cleantech investments in the likes of Bloom Energy with a new US$75m stake in ‘dynamic glass’ firm View – getting a seat on the board in the process.

The new investment means Auckland-based NZ Super now has exposure to advanced fuel cell technology (Bloom), innovative wind turbines (Ogin), carbon recycling (LanzaTech) and now high-tech glass.

Matt Whineray, NZ Super’s Chief Investment Officer, said: “While these investments in early-stage companies with strong growth potential make up only a small part of the overall Fund – around 1.5% – they are an appropriate part of the mix for a long-term, diversified investor seeking to maximise returns.

“View’s energy efficiency benefits are also a good fit with our strategy to increase the Fund’s exposure to alternative energy.”

View, which changed its name from Soladigm in 2012, makes dynamic-tinting glass, which helps users control light and glare and cut the amount of energy used for cooling, heating and lighting buildings. The systems can be controlled via smartphone apps.The product is installed at more than 120 sites across North America, including a pilot installation at Sustainability Base, NASA’s new showcase facility at the Ames Research Center in California. View is headquartered in Silicon Valley and has a factory in Olive Branch, Mississippi.

NZ Super’s Head of International Direct Investment Nigel Gormly will join View’s board, joining the likes of Khosla Ventures partner Samir Kaul and Tom Patterson of Madrone Capital Partners, the venture capital firm from which it raised $100m in 2013.

Also on the board are Jeff Evenson, senior vice president at glass and ceramics giant Corning and Chip Hambro, the ex-chief operating officer and current director at First Solar, the solar panel maker.

“We are thrilled that NZ Super Fund has joined our investor group at a time of rapid growth at View,” said View’s Chief Executive Rao Mulpuri. He is a former senior executive at integrated circuits firm Novellus Systems as are several of the senior executive team.